France will ban “yellow vest” rallies in some areas of the country after violence that erupted during Saturday’s demonstration in Paris.
At a press conference on Monday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said by “as early as next Saturday” authorities will ban gatherings in areas that have been the most affected by the demonstrations – as soon as they are aware that extremists “claiming they belong to the ‘gilets jaunes’” are present.
Philippe named Paris’ Champs Elysées, Pey-Berland Square in Bordeaux and Capitol Square in Toulouse as areas that would be subject to such bans. He said that rioters who weren’t part of the yellow vest movement were to blame for the violence.
“I do not mix up criminals and the majority of gilets jaunes,” he said.
On Saturday, 60 people, including 17 police officers and a fireman, were slightly injured on the 18th straight Saturday of yellow vest, or “gilet jaunes,” demonstrations in Paris.
The protests turned violent as police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Protesters threw rocks and set up barricades.
Protesters torched a branch of the Tarneaud bank, a spokesperson for Paris firefighters said. Firefighters evacuated the building and put out the blaze.
“The people involved were not demonstrators, they were rioters (…) whose unique goal was to raid, burn, destroy and hurt. And by burning, they also took the risk of killing,” Philippe said.
After the violence, Philippe said he asked for a “reorganization” of law enforcement. On Monday, he announced that Paris Police Chief Michel Delpuech would be replaced on Wednesday by Didier Lallement.
The yellow vest protests began as a campaign against a gas tax increase, but have morphed into a broader rally against President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
Philippe said the government wants to protect “the right to demonstrate,” citing Saturday’s peaceful march for action on climate change.
“On Saturday, 140,000 people demonstrated in France, 36,000 in Paris, pacifically, for climate. We want this to stay that way.”
“When a demonstration will be declared and pacifist, it will be accompanied by law enforcement. Nothing will be changed,” he said.
“But we are implementing a reinforced strategy against extremist militants,” he added.
CNN’s Vasco Cotovio contributed to this report.